32 SERVO 07.2017
I generally prefer to place my flood lights down low as
it creates wonderful shadows on the scene backdrops. The
use of shadows can provide additional layers of interest and
depth to your display.
I then place the spotlights to highlight individual
components and draw my guest’s attention right where I
want it. These lights work in concert with the floods and
create an interesting blend of lights.
If I am including a thunder and lightning effect, the
required lights are placed up high; preferably in a tree or
shining through netting to create additional shadows.
Pay particular attention to how all the lights work
together. The object is to blend the lights and create a
balanced and cohesive light scheme.
It is not always necessary to change
out the color of a fixture when modifying
your lighting. Colored gels are available
that can be affixed to the front of your
unit to allow you to change colors is a
I have found that photographer’s
sample packs are a handy and
inexpensive source of lighting gels for my
mini spotlights. It is as simple as cutting
one to size and attaching it with a rubber
band. Use caution when applying them
to lights that create a lot of heat as this
could cause a safety issue.
It is important that you choose the
right wire and size for your application.
Making an improper choice can be
hazardous and lead to a fire or shock. A
link to a good voltage drop calculator
with more information on the subject can be found in the
Resources sidebar. If in doubt of which size to use, go
You can choose to power your lighting with either
batteries or a dedicated AC service. While batteries allow
you to “sever the cord” and place your lights wherever you
please, they do have some serious drawbacks and
It can be costly and time-consuming to continually
replace discharged batteries. If your program runs for an
extended period, you may find your lights dimming and
eventually going out before your show is finished.
If you are looking for batteries that will provide the
longest continuous light supply, I have found that lithium
batteries fit the bill.
AC power seems to fit the requirements the best,
however, as it offers a stable, consistent, and economical
supply of power. My primary lights which require the most
power are all plugged into AC circuits.
Another important consideration is the adequacy of the
circuits that are providing the power. An extremely useful
tool for monitoring the loads placed on individual circuits is
the Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor (see Resources).
This is an integral tool for me when I’m laying out my
power distribution lines.
When planning your lighting
requirements, do not forget to include
some fixtures that will be used as a
separate emergency lighting system. I
recommend that these be connected to a
separate dedicated circuit and be
controlled by a master switch. In an
emergency situation, you want to be able
to quickly enable all of these lights at
once to provide a safe and well lit exit
DIY Lights and
Controlled lighting using a DMX
system that is synchronized with your
prop activations can take your project to
the next level. I appreciate the ability to
script the lighting for each independent
area of my show. I’m still not using my
system to its full capacity, but I work on
improving it each year.
Whenever this subject comes up, it
always ignites the debate on the merits
Figure 5. DMX central control.
LED Calculator — http://bit.ly/LEDwzrd
Voltage Drop Calculator — http://bit.ly/Voltdrop
Monoprice — http://bit.ly/mnpric
Kill-A-Watt — http://store.nutsvolts.com/project-
DIY LED Tutorial — http://bit.ly/ledsys
Lights Alive — http://bit.ly/litealv
Fright Light Illuminations — http://bit.ly/frtlte
Mini Spotlight — http://bit.ly/minspt
Gantom — http://bit.ly/gntmlt
DIY Christmas — http://bit.ly/Clight
My You Tube channel — http://bit.ly/Halstaff
My Website — http://bit.ly/Hauntechdiy
DIY Animatronics Forum — http://tinyurl.com/qjeehjs